Last week I read an essay in Rolling Stone, written by Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed's widow. While I like the Velvet Underground, and thought his death was sad and too soon, I wasn't as profoundly affected as some of my friends. Despite this distance, I found Anderson's elegy both beautiful and heartbreaking, and when I got to this passage about marriage, I paused and thought: yes.
When you marry your best friend of many years, there should be another name for it. But the thing that surprised me about getting married was the way it altered time. And also the way it added a tenderness that was somehow completely new. To paraphrase the great Willie Nelson: "Ninety percent of the people in the world end up with the wrong person. And that's what makes the jukebox spin."
Today is the one year anniversary of our wedding (and, as of tomorrow, 11 years together, because I'll be damned if I stop counting that first decade just because it happened before the white dress and the big party). After one year of marriage, I feel qualified to make two observations. The first is that getting married didn't change much. Our relationship pre- and post-wedding looks pretty much the same. We still bicker over stupid things. We still text each other sweet hellos throughout the day. We still daydream about our future house, and worry about money, and plan vacations and holidays, and do our best to turn an ordinary day into an adventure. While we certainly have nicer kitchenware now, we didn't undergo a drastic and immediate transformation the moment we slipped those rings on our fingers.
And yet I can't help but notice that being married feels different. I'm contradicting myself, I know, and that's why I liked Anderson's essay. Marriage didn't add anything new to our relationship, but it feels as if it deepened the things that were already there.
I'm sure our relationship would have continued to grow and evolve, to root and wind around us as the years passed, with or without a wedding. We've grown so much, as individuals and as a couple, since our first anniversary, and I know this will be true for our 15th, and our 20th, and our 50th. Our wedding wasn't a catalyst for these feelings, this growth; it was a celebration of the work we'd already put it, and a public promise to stick together no matter what. One year later, we're still working and still celebrating.
I'm sure it's different for everyone, because no two marriages are exactly alike, but for me, one year in, marriage provides a sense of certainty, of being rooted in and with my partner. It makes me feel safe. It makes me happy. I'm glad I'm married and, more than that, I'm glad I'm married to Nathan.
Happy anniversary, love. Here's to many more.